An economic boost that will generate more jobs for First Australians will be delivered through a $65 million loan to the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC).
The Coalition Government has signed off on the loan to the ILC to help free it up from the burden of a crippling debt incurred following its purchase of the Ayers Rock Resort in 2010.
Speaking at a major celebration today to mark the resort’s Indigenous employment rate reaching 35 per cent, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said the low-interest loan was a great example of the Coalition delivering for the ILC and the First Australians they represent.
“As it stood, the ILC would have continued to divert money it should have been spending on supporting more jobs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in order to service interest repayments that would have been as high as 9 per cent. This was an intolerable situation,” Minister Scullion said.
“This loan is precisely in keeping with Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to do things with Indigenous people – not to them.
“Uluru is Australia’s most recognisable natural site and a focal point for acknowledging Aboriginal culture, not only in Australia, but around the world. And nowhere else in the world is there a tourism operation with the scale and significance of the Ayers Rock Resort – in Indigenous ownership.
“Importantly, under the stewardship of the ILC, the resort has enjoyed great success employing First Australians. At the time the ILC bought the resort, Indigenous employment was virtually nil. Today, almost 280 First Australians are employed there and 100 trainees undertake accredited training at the National Indigenous Training Academy each year.
“Fifteen local Anangu work at the resort and a further 11 are engaged as contractors to provide cultural performances and experiences for guests each day. I look forward to working with the Mutitjulu community to see this employment outcome continue to improve.”
The ILC is an independent Commonwealth agency established to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to acquire and manage land for economic and cultural benefits. The Coalition’s agreement to a low-interest loan will put it on a sustainable footing.
“This is a genuine win-win announcement. Taxpayers will not have to foot the cost of this loan – because the ILC will service it and the low rate will save the ILC tens of millions of dollars in interest repayments,” Minister Scullion said.
“It also safeguards the $2 billion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account which the ILC receives an annual dividend from, from those calling on it to be raided. Labor’s political appointees to the ILC squandered significant opportunities during their tenure and I will not allow the Land Account to be used as a credit card.”